Given the current circumstances and heightened alertness surrounding CoronaVirus (COVID-19), as parents and caregivers we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Children may have a whole range of responses to the changes and and stressors associated with preventing COVID-19. They may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear. CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
General principles for talking to children
- Remain calm and reassuring.
- Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
- Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
- Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
- Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
- Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
- Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
- Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
- If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and childcare facilities.
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